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The Snoop

Did you know there are still areas in the United States where residents  only have access to print media, newspapers? 

According to Pew Research, 24% of Americans in rural areas do not have digital access (broadband), and 42% have no access at home.

Thirty-five percent who reside in these communities don’t own a smartphone, and 22% do not use the internet at all. 

To most of us those facts may seem hard to believe, however, in a recent article by commercial and print industry analyst Heidi Tolliver-Walker, she claims there are many large bedroom communities that do not have adequate coverage when it comes to internet access.  

In fact, many have no broadband access at all.  And according to Missouri officials, ten school districts in Missouri are still without access.

For Douglas County residents, most rural folks have digital access but continue to experience challenges, ‘spotty’ coverage, or download waits that are unbearable.  Digital offerings are most assuredly limited and the cost of service may be prohibitive. 

To target these areas, marketing companies and advertising agencies know that they can only reach certain demographic markets via newspaper.  

Toliver-Walker’s article states “the FCC has spent ‘billions’ building out broadband to rural areas, but it still has a long way to go.” 

Sound familiar.  

Toliver-Walker continues “…. print and other traditional channels remain critical to reaching these customers, whether business or consumer.  So before your clients cut their print budgets in favor of digital marketing, make sure they don’t need that 8% of the population that they may not be able to reach.” 

In her article, Toliver-Walker references Cleveland, Tenn., a bedroom community with 44,000 residents, an area that sits just outside Chattangooga.  The town has no broadband access.   None.  

Chattanooga, on the other hand, is reported to have one of the fastest digital service areas in the country.  

The dichotomy is interesting as these two communities are only 32 miles apart.  

So, how do marketers reach consumers in those areas?   They buy ads in the local newspaper.  

In an annual survey conducted by the National Newspaper Association  (NNA), in August 2019, the survey findings tallied comments from 1,000s of people in rural and urban communities to find that “respondents rated community newspapers as the most trusted source of information …..”  

And, community newspapers ratings topped all other information mediums.  

According to the NNA survey, “community newspapers are also the leading source for shopping decisions and advertising content.”  79% of those queried said newspapers “provide valuable local shopping and advertising information.” 

Both surveys show strong support for community newspapers, as well as a product valued for disseminating news, and advertising merchandise. 

Newspapers work.  

Many years ago, I sold advertising.  Occasionally a potential client would diss my product by stating “it lacked market appeal and won’t work for us.”  

My standard defense was to respond with an attractive offer for them –– because they thought my advertising product did not work, I would generously provide an ad about their company or product for one month –– free.  BUT, there was a caveat, I wrote the message for the ad.  

A simple proposition.  

And, no one ever took the offer.

They were skeptical of the advertising message I would assert about their company.  

They were also afraid I might offer their product(s) for free.   

My generous offer made them realize, as well as admit, that print advertising really does work.

National Newspaper Week will be observed next week, Oct. 6-12.  Please join us in celebrating the outreach of the newspaper business.  

And, let’s not only celebrate the Douglas County Herald, but also recognize the Ozark County Times, Webster County Citizen, Mountain Grove Journal, and many other local newspaper businesses that continue to provide accurate and outstanding news items to Ozark residents. 

Kudos to each and every one. 

As the Douglas County Herald rolls into another publication year, our business model continues to grow and expand.  The Herald staff is excited about our ongoing partnership with digital media; however, even as the Herald moves into a new realm, the newspaper will always be the cornerstone of our business.  

Most of all, we are thrilled to be in partnership with this community –– a relationship that is 134 years strong.